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Portland Oregon: Top Ten Reasons to Live (or not live) There?

Portland Oregon: Top Ten Reasons to Live (or not live) There?

Old May 2nd, 2005, 01:42 PM
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For a bit of a different perspective, I'm a native Oregonian that got sidetracked in Utah for 10 years and just returned to the beautiful PNW a year ago.

My goal was to live in Portland because I love the vibe and all that it has to offer. However, I simply cannot afford to. Because my job sends me all over the state of Oregon, I selected Salem as my homebase instead. More affordable for me, and still with easy access to Portland (because I am there frequently). It was important to me that rather than be caught in suburbia, I live in another distinct city with it's own historical features (albeit one with a different vibe). Do I still want to live in Portland? You bet! But I've also found many pluses to living in Salem, such as closer access to Eugene and Bend.

The tax issues raised earlier are worth investigating. Moving back from Utah, I gave up sales tax, but gained a 2% increase in income tax and greater state taxes.
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 01:46 PM
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Pros and cons:

Progressive, yet uptight.

Prides its "openness and diversity", yet is probably the most homogeneous large city in the country with a not-so-stellar track record in the segregated black neighborhoods.

The farther you get from the center of town, the trashier it gets - real quick.

Relatively affordable (for the west coast), but probably over priced for the local economy.

Good "family" town, with plenty o' stuff for the kiddies year round.

And possibly the worst part--- The tweakers!!!
As a recent transplant from San Diego (the former speed capital of the country 20 years ago), the most disturbing thing to me are the nightly news stories of methamphetamine lab busts and abused crank (not crack!) babies. I thought crystal meth came and went in the eighties, but unfortunately it's alive and well in Oregon.






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Old May 2nd, 2005, 01:46 PM
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LOL , kk, heat&humidity can drive a person to Portland though ~
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 02:27 PM
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with so little goin on there, i guess anything new in astoria is reason to get excited.....
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 02:28 PM
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ooops.... wrong thread.
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 02:43 PM
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lol uh uhhhh, I understood what you meant though
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 02:50 PM
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I have never been to Portland, but it is high on my list. I have always been facinated and all of your posts point out why:


scarlett: "We walked everywhere,.." "...they planned this city for people to enjoy and get around in."

lcuy: "Portland is very compact. You can bicycle everywhere if you are so inclined."

pdxgirl: "It's close to other natural wonders"

karens: "the surrounding areas are totally beautiful"

orcas: "Scenic beauty..."

marylin: "...its vibrant downtown,"

gardyloo: "Like best - nice user-friendly downtown - very walkable"

mms: "mountains for hiking and climbing."

All due to .....NO SUBURBAN SPAWL!!!!!!

Portland at some point in the past took a stand and drew (literally) a line in the sand (well, forest) and forbid development outside that line.

My facination is because I can't help but think if every city had done this decades ago we would all have vibrant, fun, cities with unspoiled nature right outside of OUR line.




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Old May 2nd, 2005, 03:12 PM
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Actually Oregon's growth management laws have turned out to be more hat than cattle. Yes, there were lines drawn on maps that supposedly were to control sprawl, or, more specifically, to reduce conversion of agricultural/resource land to residential/commercial use. However, the combined pressure of population growth and economic growth are powerful influences and many of those lines have got fudged, moved, amended, or otherwise gotten around. Today the Portland metro area is not very different looking than many other US cities IMO (speaking as one who works in the housing, planning and regional development field m'self.)

Portland's walkable downtown is a reflection of the city's age (it's considerably older than Seattle, for example.) The blocks in central Portland are around 20-40 feet shorter than in other cities, the effect of which is to make for more buildings with less interior (windowless) space, and more variety at street level for pedestrians, rather than long unadorned facades of office buildings. There was a lot of influence on Portland in the 19th Century from New Englanders (like, the name?) and if you walk around Portland and Boston you'll see some similarities.

Portland's downtown amenity is more the result of planning decisions made long ago, coupled with today's reasonable economic prosperity. Some present-day planners like to take credit for such things, but they ought to know better.
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 05:13 PM
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Two of my favorite things which no one has mentioned are the farmers markets and Powell's bookstores. CJ
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 05:49 PM
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Gardyloo, there is a lot recent planners have done. The 23rd St. area has strict requirements that include having shops on the street level (No big walls to pass by). Rules stepping up buildings from the river so the view of Mt. Hood is minimally obstructed were passed after some bank stuck a building in the way of the view. Recent planners deserve a lot of credit!
And, even if there is the look of suburban sprawl in places, Oregon, out- side of the city, has been largely spared, so the towns are more compact, and the countryside more bucolic, like in Europe. You can really tell the value of the land use laws when you are out in the farm country.
Alas, one of those deceptive ballot measures passed in the last election that may bring Oregon down to the level of other states, and allow willy-nilly development. The courts have a lot of interpreting to do before the story is told, but Oregon's lovely scenery may soon be spotted with development.
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 07:24 PM
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Just a note to thank you Al for posting this thread.
I am copying it to show to my husband who has gotten excited about this move (finally) but any amount of Positive imput is a Good Thing..

What did I love most about Portland?
1-The Japanese Gardens
2- that clean quiet Max
3- The sight of Haystack Rock for the first time.
4- The worlds tallest or is it oldest Pine Tree
5- When we went to see a performance of the Taiko Drummers and the people came out on the stage before and talked to the audience.
6- The Taiko Drummers
7- the young man that works at the Red Starr Restaurant at the 5th Ave Suites, who moved to Portland alone, from Canada, and works waiting tables for money to be able to be an artist..he sent us photos of his paintings that he did after his trip to Africa that will be in a show this summer in Portland.

We are very excited about being Portlanders!!
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 07:32 PM
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There's the world's tallest Spruce tree on the way to the coast. Is that the one? Am I right, or is it the world's oldest?
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 07:34 PM
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Yes, that is the one!! I have a picture of it I am standing at the base. The photo makes it look like a normal tree with a reeeally short person standing in front of it LOL
Spruce, yes, a nice Christmas tree
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 12:10 AM
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It's a Sitka Spruce.
We lived in Eugene and then the Portland, OR, area for a decade before moving to Europe (Belgium, Germany and now the UK). If (or when) we move back to the U.S., the Portland area is one of the few places we'd choose to call home.
First, the weather. The bad news about Portland's weather, like Mark Twain's death, tends to be greatly exaggerated. Compared to what much of the Rocky Mountain states, the Midwest and Northeast go through every winter, the Portland/Vancouver winters are mild as milk. Yes, they get the *occasional* ice storm (but a darn few less than we got in Philadelphia or the Lehigh Valley), but it tends to affect the higher elevations and usually is gone within a couple of days (the 4-day ice storm of 1998 was a rarity). It's not uncommon for it to reach the 60s in the middle of winter. I telecommuted full time from Oregon to a job outside Philadelphia--there were many balmy winter days when I would call in to the office and get the recording "we're sorry, xxx is closed today due to a winter storm." While my colleagues were shoveling snow, I was jumping inthe T-bird to race down to my favorite cafe on NW 23rd--and able to sit OUTSIDE. Sure it's drizzly and overcast a lot of winter days--but it's great for your skin. Like a walking facial. It's no more overcast than it was in Syracuse, NY (where it can start snowing in October and keep right on snowing til late April), or here in the greater London area.
When we first moved to Oregon, all our East Coast friends warned us about the lousy weather. Then we got to Eugene and had six weeks of nonstop sunshine with glorious warm days and cool nights. Summers in Oregon are outstanding. It can get surprisingly hot in Portland, esp. on the east side towards the Gorge, but it usually cools off enough at night to sleep without air conditioning and you can always drive to the coast on a really scorching day (i.e., when it was 105 degrees in Vancouver, WA, it was 82 degrees at Cannon Beach).
Stuff we loved: Oregon is *generally* far less materialistic than many places. Eugene especially. There are some fancy mansions dotted around now, esp. up in the southeast hills, but it's still not a place to show off your wealth. Ditto for Portland, to a lesser degree.
The natural beauty of the area combined with a wonderfully "humane" city--one where pedestrians still count as much as cars. Seattle may have the better setting, but Portland has a better laid out city.
Housing prices. Yeah, they've gone up a lot, but they're still not that bad, once you move beyond the most desirable neighborhoods. I know many Portlanders look down on Vancouver (WA), but we really liked living in the Bella Vista section of Cascade Park. I rode my bike (down a WIDE bike lane) on McGillivray to the grocery store, the coffee stand, Elmer's (for Sunday breakfast), and to some pretty neighborhood parks where I felt perfectly safe on my own even late at night. At any rate, the disconnect between salaries and housing prices in Oregon doesn't even come CLOSE to the gap between wages/salaries and real estate in and around London.
The food. Portlanders can take for granted great Japanese restaurants that other cities would die for. Great coffee bars. Great salmon. Delicious summer fruit. Good wine. It is possible to eat local for a good part of the year.
The passion for the environment. The state's liberals and conservatives (and there are plenty of "red" areas around Portland, like Wilsonville) may disagree about how best to manage/care for the environment, but at least both sides take it seriously. Coming from Philly, it was nice to see salmon debates take the front page instead of the latest mob hit or drive by shooting.
The whole work/life balance.
Stuff we didn't like:
Native Oregonian pretentiousness, especially from mere second generation Oregonians, *some* of whom really did exude smugness. My family came to Pennsylvania more than 250 years ago, but I didn't swan around lording it over newcomers because I was a "native Pennsylvanian." When President Clinton was in town for the timber summit, I was quoted in Willamette Week as saying he could solve the timber crisis in a minute if he got all the so-called Native Oregonians to pull the old growth sticks out of their butts. I still feel that way.
Housing design. Overall, I liked the houses very much, but there was (and is) a tendency for builders to stick these large plate glass windows that you can't open in the living room. In houses with no air conditioning. For crying out loud, why? When we lived (briefly) in Washougal, we had floor to ceiling south facing windows in the living room, none of which could be opened. In the height of summer, the living room temps reached 115 degrees and stayed above 100 for hours; the room was unusable.
The job market. It's true, it's not diversified enough. We have some very good friends who are talented, smart IT professionals who lost their jobs and despite updating their skills (or "skill sets" in HR speak) are still pushing chrome at Costco. If you're a health care professional, the welcome mats will be rolled out; otherwise it's a tough hunt for a good paying full time job with benefits.


One last note: if you don't need to commute to Portland for work, McMinnville is a lovely area. My inlaws recently moved there and say it's their favorite place in the Pacific NW to live (previously, they lived in a waterview condo on First Ave near Pike Place Market in Seattle, then Sequim in the OP and then Bellingham).

Oh, and I will never say "tennies" when I mean "sneakers." NEVER, I tell you!
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 03:04 AM
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Or "spendy" when I mean "pricey".
Something about the word "spendy" sets my teeth on edge.
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 08:27 AM
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Holy Smokes! I couldn't have asked for better information--you people are truly wonderful and amazing.

In addition to the people I thanked earlier in this thread, I would also like to thank the following for their input: Marilyn, mms, kk, bardo1, Carolyn and Btilke. And thanks again to Gardyloo and Orcas for the extremely interesting and informative discussion on zoning, planning, history and architecture: It really helps me to get a feel for what's going on.

Look out Scarlett, I may be hot on your little southern tail!

AL
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 09:16 AM
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I meant that as in "hot on your tail", "trail", "right behind you", etc.

Oh, never mind.

AL
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 09:34 AM
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To see some vintage complaints about Portland--by Portlanders--go to:
http://www.wweek.com/html/urbanpulse020399.html
For more recent complaints google
"willamette week"+kvetchfest
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 10:01 AM
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Oh Al, you dawg you! LOL
I knew what you meant
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 10:22 AM
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"I thought crystal meth came and went in the eighties, but unfortunately it's alive and well in Oregon."

Hate to break it to you, but meth is alive and well in many parts of the US. The local news last night said Washington State had almost twice as many meth labs as Oregon and a couple of midwest states (I think Missouri and Iowa but not sure) had about 4 times as many. I'm not saying we don't have a problem here, but I am saying it's not any worse here than in many other states.

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